On striving to be more “tranquila.”

In my day-to-day life in the United States, things are busy.  I have obligations at work and home, and I often find myself hurrying to get from one place to another. I came to Costa Rica with this mindset, with leftover stress and a sense of urgency.  I was coming here to learn, and it was important that I get the most out of my experience.

As I have discovered time and time again, when you travel abroad, you do not leave yourself or your problems behind.  You merely have changed the daily circumstances and scenery. It is, however, a great opportunity to reflect on what you need during your time away from your regular routine. I have discovered that Costa Ricans – Ticos – have a cultural mindset about time that has been incredibly beneficial to me.

Costa Ricans have what is affectionately referred to as, “Tico time.”  In Costa Rica, while all of my activities have begun without any issues, they haven’t always started on time.  While on the excursion to Monteverde, our guide said at least twice that we would stop for lunch in a half hour. Later in the trip, he said that he would meet us at 3:00 in the afternoon.  He casually walked in at 4:00PM.  When someone mentioned that we had been worried, he shrugged, stating he would have called the hotel if something were wrong.  I have had to let go of the idea that everything has to start exactly on time, and feel much more relaxed as a result.

According to my Spanish-English dictionary, the adjective tranquilo/a means calm or relaxed.  It could be used to describe a person, e.g. “Ella está tranquila.” Here, I have most often heard it used as a statement or command within itself.  When I was nervous about my initial placement exam, one of the teachers reassured me with this one word.  When I felt less of a sense of urgency, I was able to speak with more confidence.

During my time here, I am trying to slow down and let things unfold.  Whatever else I take back with me, I want to hold onto this sense of calm, and strive to be more, as they say, “tranquila.”

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